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What We Know about Parkinson's Disease for Sure

Parkinson's disease is a mysterious condition which affects people differently and is often hard to diagnose while patients are alive, as the brain needs to be physically examined in order to obtain a conclusive result. Meanwhile, the neurologic condition can invoke changes in areas from your posture to the way you experience the world. Despite a lot is unknown, doctors do have some certainties about Parkinson's. This is what they know.Dance-for-PD

1. It’s a type of movement disorder, much like Huntington’s disease, and it's usually only diagnosed in people over 50 years old. This may mean it will become more common as life expectancy rises though.

2. It is characterized by damage to the neurons, which in turn results in a shortage of dopamine. Dopamine is responsible for ordering movement, so when your brain doesn't have enough of this substance, your capability and quality of movement becomes impaired.

3. The most recognizable symptoms of Parkinson’s are the slowness and rigidity of movement as well as, perhaps more notably, hand tremors. There are other, less recognizable symptoms though, which include the loss of smell and cognitive ability, as well as constipation. Skin conditions such as dryness and even skin cancer are also common in Parkinson's patients, who in fact have a higher rate of the latter than other segments of the population.

4. There’s a high incidence of depression in Parkinson's patients, both research and empirical observation have found. While there may be other reasons for this direct connection, health professionals point out that there is a heavy stigma connected to Parkinson’s, which when combined with the fears of losing movement and independence that often plague patients, can easily cause this kind of condition.

5. It may seem like a contradiction, but fighting Parkinson's with physical activity and exercise is actually quite effective. In fact, exercise can not only lift the mood of patients, but it also helps improve range of motion, balance and coordination. To help patients feel more at ease and target their specific needs, there are some specialized gyms and classes out there, so you can try them yourself or suggest them if you know someone with Parkinson's.

6. It may sound hard to believe to some, but you can’t actually die from Parkinson’s disease itself. It is a degenerative disease, so it may slowly shut your body functions. As a result, you can die from asphyxia caused by difficulties swallowing provoked by Parkinson’s, skin cancer or a number of other complications caused by Parkinson’s disease.